Answered By: Todd White
Last Updated: Mar 02, 2018     Views: 18

Two out of the last three years I have been selected to participate in the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. The first year I threw it in a pile of mail that I was going to get around to some day. A month went by and I was a bit surprised when the Census Bureau called and told me that by law I needed to fill out the survey now. The second year I filled out the survey right away.

This information that I and other Americans fill out yearly is what makes up a great share of the data about Anoka county that we found in the American FactFinder.

I tell you this rather long story for a reason. This community information can be tracked and the results published because it is linked to place – my address. And by law I must fill it out.

Now think about the population that you are hoping to find such detailed information about - language literacy rate, high school education population of homeless and college education graduation rates for homeless, median income for homeless, unemployment for homeless by race and with gender  – how is it going to be collected when the population is attached to no permanent address? How is it going to be collected if no one is compelled to answer?

The only way I could think of this would be for someone to go out into the field, be able to locate a  homeless population, and then get them to agree to answer some personal, detailed questions (some that could involve a sense of shame – do you want to admit to a random interviewer that you cannot read?).

The limited survey information about the homeless that I have found tends to be a population count that does supply demographic information such as gender, race, age and also status as a veteran. (This info can be found in a previously answered AskUs Question - ).

In a murder mystery the detective always asks in regards to motive, cui bono? (“for whose benefit?”). Let us apply this to our question about the homeless in Anoka County. Who in Anoka County is going to locate the homeless population and ask them a series of detailed questions about their lives and once this is gathered, then publish the information?

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer on this question, but as of the moment I don’t know how to answer it, and I am not sure if it can be answered.

Is it a safe assumption that if your professor is requiring this information, that she or he knows how to find it?

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